VF Venture Foundry: A Sit-Down with Jean-Pierre Aramouni, Current Entrepreneur in Residence
In a recent post, we introduced you to our VF Venture Foundry program that is expanding boundaries and shaping the future by working with fearlessly curious entrepreneurs and founders hungry to build and execute their vision. VF Venture Foundry associates and entrepreneurs-in-residence work outside the box using entrepreneurial skills and an experimental mindset to get to the commercial truth about consumer problems, needs and market opportunities by leveraging the stability and resources of a large organization like VF.
We sat down with two entrepreneurs to hear about their experiences with the Foundry. Today, we’re sharing insights from Jean-Pierre (JP) Aramouni, about starting his career at a start-up and the transition to entrepreneurship.
Q: Tell us about your journey to becoming an entrepreneur.
A: I was a part of the early growth team at Uber and it was truly a rocket ship. Early on, when Uber was a startup – still building the product, hiring partner drivers, figuring out the operations from city to city, I was living out of my suitcase and leading some of the international launches of the app. It was super rewarding and inspiring. It gave me a strong toolkit and I learned how tech can be used to really scale impact. After Uber, I worked at and advised other hyper-growth start-ups that were scaling internationally. Right before the pandemic, I made the leap into entrepreneurship and launched Blue Space, a real estate wellness company in Miami. We leveraged underutilized marina slips and built floating studios for independent wellness instructors to host outdoor wellness classes on the water safely, which was an incredibly important outlet during the early days of the pandemic. Today, with the support of the Foundry, I’m building a new venture that reimagines how mental wellness can be achieved by tackling it from an experiential angle. Increased screen time over the last two years has led to high rates of burnout. We want to connect people with experiences that lift them out of their ‘funk’.
Q: What drew you to the EIR program with VF Venture Foundry? What are you aiming to achieve through VF Venture Foundry?
A: VF’s commitment to an active lifestyle, and the company’s wellness-first attitude resonated with me. The idea of an active lifestyle is evolving coming out of the pandemic; we’re all emerging from this time with shared stress and mental health impacts that need to be addressed. There is great opportunity to reimagine what a fully active lifestyle is, and its relationship with overall mental health.
I was also drawn to the fact that the VF Venture Foundry Studio is new. I have been a part of many early-stage companies and I thrive in those environments.
Q: How will the experience you are gaining from VF Venture Foundry set your business up for success?
A: VF Venture Foundry truly empowers entrepreneurs to prioritize early stages of testing and validating an idea. Many startups go straight to market, which is not a direct path to success. Making time and resource commitments to pre-work is a luxury for most entrepreneurs, and is part of the standard process afforded through the Foundry studio. The Foundry also provides resources in research, design, marketing and more. It is a decentralized process that allows entrepreneurs to maintain a lot of autonomy, but also drive a lot of responsibility. Entrepreneurs can really take the reins on their own journey.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to future entrepreneurs applying for the VF Venture Foundry Entrepreneur in Residence program?
- Know that the area where you’re building a business is truly an area where you want to make an impact. Your ideas will change, the product might evolve, the business model might shift – but you need to always come back to your vision to guide you. Also, make sure you are a self-starter. Building a company remotely is challenging and requires discipline. The Foundry is designed for the earliest stages of discovery, so an EIR should be comfortable with the ambiguity and uncertainty that is a part of those early stages.
Overall, be excited by the journey! Be flexible, and embrace the ups and downs - it is all a part of the process. There are different ways to get to the final destination, and an EIR should be flexible and embrace the journey. Having a goal and an idea is important, but make sure you are willing to pivot, while still keeping that final destination in mind.